Monument Day (Tag des Denkmals) in Austria has been organised since 1995 by the Federal Monuments Office. The day sees a diverse range of historic buildings open their doors to the public for free, and particularly draws attention to conservation projects and lesser-known places. This year, the Austrian programme will be exploring the shared theme of Living Heritage under the tagline ‘Monument [he:she:we] Live’ and aims to highlight the importance of interacting with historic buildings and appreciating how they impact our daily lives. 2023 also sees an important anniversary in the country, with the centenary of the Austrian Monument Protection Act being celebrated as the focus of public activities of the Federal Monuments Office across the year.

Q: As President of the Federal Monuments Office (Bundesdenkmalamt), you must have a really varied role. What might a typical day look like for you, and what areas of your work are you particularly excited to be working on at the moment?

“My daily work is very different; I spend a lot of time on administrative work, but for me it’s very important to go around and meet owners of monuments and see the work that is going on all over Austria. And as we have special departments for each of the federal states, it’s very important to meet my colleagues and have conversations about ongoing or coming projects; a big issue now is energy efficiency for buildings such as fitting solar panels and how to deal with this on historic roofs. I think my first responsibility is to bring people together to address important issues, find common lines for our team and to communicate the value of cultural heritage to the people of Austria.”

Q: The Mauerbach Charterhouse is a beautiful historic building, and the Federal Monuments Office runs some interesting craftsmanship training courses and conservation research programmes there. Can you tell us a little bit about those and what they’ve aimed to achieve?

“This is a very important department. Around 1980 this former Charterhouse, which was nearly a ruin, was given to the Federal Monuments Office for step-by-step restoration and to bring together experts, craftsmen, architects and so on to discuss and develop restoration methods and try them out. This is still the case today, and there are different courses which train people on craftsmanship and methods using traditional materials, so it’s a training place and a place for experiment. ‘Care and repair’ is the slogan at Mauerbach, and I think looking after historic structures day-by-day is one of the crucial points about how to maintain our heritage.”

Q: In Austria this year you’re celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the Monument Protection Act. What has been the importance of the Act and what are you hoping the public will discover about it this year?

“The Monument Protection Act was passed in 1923; many things were done in the decades before in an advisory competence but not acting as a state authority. Then in the years after World War I, Parliament passed the Monument Protection Act; it’s a quite interesting fact that when Austria was very much in economic crisis, politicians made an effort to protect heritage. The Monument Protection Act is still in force; of course times change and some things get adjusted, but in general this is still the basis of our work and we declare around 200-300 objects per year as protected monuments. We’re celebrating the year with several events, from discussions with restorers, owners and local people across Austria, to an evening with stakeholders in Linz and two conferences in Vienna. The year is like an umbrella for events all over Austria.”

Q: The shared theme for European Heritage Days this year is Living Heritage. Can you tell us a bit about how it’s been framed in Austria and what the theme is all about for Monument Day?

“We translated Living Heritage as ‘denkmal [er:sie:wir] leben’. It’s a play on words that covers two aspects – monuments are living, and we live with them. Our heritage is part of our daily lives and we are living with it. Cultural heritage is not something very abstract for a rainy Sunday afternoon, but something which really is part of our daily lives. Sometimes we don’t understand how precious this is because it’s so common and we can take it for granted, so we have to raise awareness of these things.”

Q: Thinking about Living Heritage, what’s your approach on the importance of protecting intangible cultural heritage for future generations?

“Our Authority and the Monument Protection Act covers just material heritage, but for example traditional craftsmanship is something that’s very important for maintenance, and in many cases you need the buildings, places and surroundings to maintain the basis for intangible heritage. In Austria the focal point for intangible heritage is the Austrian National Commission for UNESCO, and they are collecting and promoting memories and special traditions for the list of intangible heritage in Austria according to the UNESCO convention.”

Q: Something which European Heritage Days are always keen to encourage is getting young people involved. What sort of things can younger people expect from Monument Day this year?

“We’re highlighting some events which are for young children, and we have a great variety of events across all of Austria which attract people independent of their age. We are involved in the European Heritage Volunteers movement, and we have a cooperation with the Vienna University of Technology. There are also schools involved; the French Embassy often takes part and invites Austrian schools to show them around their splendid Art Nouveau building in Vienna, and there’s a school in Lower Austria in a former castle which is fantastic and the pupils make guided tours. I also try to visit places myself and see we have a great variety of people involved, so it’s not only older people it’s also young people and friends taking this day as an opportunity. Young people are not only the audience of the future, they are the audience of today.”

Q: And finally, the event programme for Monument Day in Austria is already online. Are there any events which have particularly caught your eye this year or anything else that you’d like to highlight?

“We expect more than 300 events. I myself will take part in the events in Salzburg because have a very dense programme of events there and a lot of very interesting and different kinds of monuments will be open on the day. Something which I think really should be underlined is that that European Heritage Days is a Europe wide event. It’s not only an Austrian day, it’s a European day about common culture and it’s a responsibility we have all over Europe. I think it’s very interesting that this gives us a common basis in Europe because heritage is something we share… this is something we should stress more and talk more about.”

Find out more about the celebration of European heritage Days plans in Austria

This year’s Monument Day in Austria takes place on 24th September. The events programme is already online and can be found at, or follow the programme on Facebook at @TagDesDenkmalsInOsterreich or Instagram at and via the hashtags #ichbindenkmal and #tagdesdenkmals.